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British Airways restricting 1st row of Club Europe to Gold only?

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One of the perks of having a British Airways Executive Club Gold card is that you can book Row 1 in Club Europe on short-haul flights.

I  know there are mixed feelings about Row 1, because you can’t stretch out your legs under a seat in front.  For me it is a major improvement on sitting in Row 2 or further back – especially if the person in front reclines into your face as happened to me on the way back from Geneva last week.

The rule for Row 1 was this – a Gold member could book Row 1 at the time of booking for his entire party.

This has been hugely useful for us as a family because – booking well in advance for leisure trips – there would be no other Gold card holders already in Club Europe and we could select 1A, 1C, 1D and 1F for the four of us.  The kids don’t get squeezed in and there is no-one in front to get a six year old tugging at their seat back.

There are some indications recently that this policy has changed.

Looking at recent Flyertalk reports, it appears that you may now only be able to book the Gold card holder themselves into Row 1 in Club Europe.  Any family members will need to sit elsewhere.

It is not fully clear exactly how this is working though.  A few comments below from HfP readers suggest that they have still been able to do it recently.

If this was the case, it would be a copy of the system that already exists in First Class, whereby a Gold card member can pre-book 1A but cannot put their non-Gold partner into 1K.

There is some logic for doing this, of course.  It is possible that, on business routes, some travellers were booking a group of passengers together on one ticket.  This would get everyone in Row 1 via one Gold card, pushing all other Gold card holders further back.

I’m not sure that is hugely likely though.

What IS odd is putting this rule in place on leisure routes.  How many Gold card holders are flying, on their own, from Gatwick to Barcelona for example?  Very few.

How many Gold members are travelling with their partner or families for a short break to Barcelona and would like to be allocated Row 1 but now cannot get it?  Quite a few.

Row 1 will open up nearer to the time of departure, but at that point any Club Europe passenger will be able to move forward irrespective of status.

I haven’t seen this in action yet because we only have one family trip booked and that was set up months ago.  I can imagine it being frustrating for us next summer if it really is new policy, rather than a number of isolated IT incidents.  Let’s see.

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Comments (88)

  • JamesB says:

    I don’t really get the anti-family stuff on airplanes. Sure it is a problem if there is a kid kicking or pulling the back of your seat but if there is that’s a parenting issue, not a kid issue. On the whole most kids seem to enjoy flying and I rarely find myself disturbed by them. Have encountered more issues with adults on board than kids.

    • James says:

      You don’t? Recent CE was like a crèche. Obviously I don’t resent parents flying with kids. What I do object to is that it now seems socially acceptable to blast the rest of us with Peppa Pig out loud on little Sophie’s iPad! It’s not the kids – it’s their parents living in a bubble completely unaware of others.

      • JamesB says:

        That was one of my my points. Cabin crew have a role to play in this respect too, perhaps they should exercise it more effectively when the need arises.

        • the real harry1 says:

          as we always fly peak @ beginning & end of school hols, our flights are always packed with kids – can’t say it’s ever much of a problem though yes, getting your seat back kicked & pulled repeatedly is a bit annoying though easily stopped

          going out & back to NZ with 2 then 3 tots/ toddlers sure taught me about the difference between genuinely nice and intrinsically horrible people – I suggest anybody anti-kids on planes is basically showing a deep-seated immaturity in not being able to cope with minor annoyances – just tune out if you find them irritating when they invade your space and focus on more important things

          • Yuff says:

            Plus you can put on headphones, which are on all long haul flights, help block out the noise. People just need to be a little more tolerant in a confined space!
            We had a crying baby, on a flight back from Palma last week, and I just watched a film on my iPad, then my wife told me about all the things that happened, on the flight, child in front throwing up, person sitting next to me going white and visiting the toilet after it happened. I did wonder where they had gone for so long?
            A lot of us have been through it, as parents, so have some sympathy when a parent is struggling to calm a baby down, I probably wasn’t as sympathetic pre- children 🙁

          • twoclicks says:

            “just tune out if you find them irritating when they invade your space and focus on more important things”

            Literally everyone hates you.

          • JamesB says:

            Lest we forget, we were all kids ourselves once 🙂 Personally I’ve never been bothered once by a kid but I know many complain they are. By contrast, over the past 37 years I have suffered from inflight adult tantrums, adults overspilling onto my seat in economy, adult BO, adult drunks, adult accusations that I touched their luggage, adults who were to touchy feely and one adult who assaulted her kid and amother who assaulted a flight attendant.

          • the real harry1 says:

            @ twoclicks – does literally everyone hate me? you could be right but unlikely, as most people reserve hatred for something that matters (such as bad neighbours lol), not faceless posters on a blog posting something you disagree with or just outsmarting you time & again

            having said that, nobody has come to my defence 🙂

            anyway, you do sort of demonstrate the immaturity etc that I mentioned, so thanks!

          • the real harry1 says:

            so here are some reasons why it’s completely immature to resent kids on planes

            – it’s public transport – if they paid for a ticket, they can travel wherever they like
            – kids are just being kids, we were all kids once
            – crying & tantrums are part of being a young kid – ear pressure can be painful, lack of sleep & being confined might seem awful
            – you (the resenter) are not special, you are just another human being travelling on public transport
            – humankind is a biological species, the kids being our future – so they are very necessary to the continuation of the species and this is how they are
            – a bit of noise or commotion, a bit of seat back getting kicked or pulled is very minor compared to other stuff going on in the world (perspective needed)
            – resenters are the outsiders, the ones who don’t fit in – why don’t or didn’t you have kids yourself? most people with kids completely understand about kids – so you didn’t – why? are you so old you forgot? so young you didn’t have a chance? not that way inclined? work got in the way? wasn’t possible & you resent those for whom it was possible? in any case you are the outsiders
            – anybody who thinks they are so important that kids should not intrude into their space – especially Business or First! – already has such a big broom up their arse that they don’t need another one shoving up my me 🙂

      • twoclicks says:

        I hear you @James about that blasting crap out of the iPad. And @JamesB the parents and kids go together – so both are in bad books if there is any misbehaving. Oddly, never seen an unaccompanied minor acting up!

        • Anna says:

          Just politely ask the parents to turn the sound down. As parents they won’t hear it as I can guarantee they will have learned to one out their own kids!!

  • Cate says:

    Nope, life would be boring Ruth. Only a small portion of earning points is work the rest is full of how are you going to spend them 🙂

  • Kevin H says:

    This problem also cropped-up a year or two ago. I spoke with BA at that time and they said it was an IT glitch (I know!!!) – which, eventually, was fixed. Are we sure it’s not the same thing this time too?

  • @mkcol says:

    This seems to reflect the policy that when there are 2 Golds booked in row 1 on the same booking, then 1 of those 2 drops to silver – they then get booted out of that seat.

  • Jason says:

    I made two bookings this week LHR – IST – LHR and LGW – FNC – LGW as QF OWE. Not issue selecting 1A 1C for myself and BA Silver as the second traveller (one PNR).

  • Marek says:

    I just made a booking for LHR – ARN return in Club Europe, could select row 1 for my partner (blue) and myself (gold) without issues.

  • dps says:

    No problem two weeks ago getting 1A & 1C for me (LTG) and my wife (Blue) for Dec 26 ATH-LHR using my Avios but have often in past had to call to get PNR’s linked when we’ve each used our own.

  • Ian Booth says:

    On Domestic Club to EDI, I was allocated 1F, my wife 2F but I changed her to 1D on MMB

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